Santa Stress

It happens to at least one of our kids every year. It has happened in previous years with Crash, and now it happens to Bang.

Santa stress.

When our Christmas tree first went up the boys knew that was the signal for Woody and Elfis to return. They were looking forward to their return. There was a very distinct change in Bang’s attitude and behaviour. Before the elves arrival, if he got frustrated with something – it could have been anything from the wrong color bowl to the way his socks fit to the zipper on his jacket – he would stomp and growl/scream. He wouldn’t ask for help.

He didn’t want help.

He’d stomp and then carry on trying to do whatever it was he was trying to do. However, after our elves returned, his stomping and growling stopped instantly. He would calmly ask for help. It was bliss.

For 12 whole days.

Now, he’s seen Santa three times in three different locations. We discovered he’s now scared/shy of Santa. Crash never was. Bang just developed this phobia. Not once has he sit on Santa’s lap to tell him what he wanted for Christmas this year. Only once did he approach Santa. But that was because he was passing out presents (coloring books and markers) to Bang’s class.

*Side note – He was upset upon opening his coloring book and markers because it’s not what he was asking for. It wasn’t a combine harvester. However, he now has nearly every picture in his book colored and his markers will often travel with him.

Anyway, Santa was in his classroom for a quick visit last Friday. When we went to school today, Bang broke down in tears on our way in.

“I don’t want to go to school.” he told me.

I held his hand and continued walking. When he covered his mouth to hide his crying, I clued in that he was scared of something and that something could only have been Santa. Normally, he can’t wait to get to school. He loves it. I carried him into class and one of his teachers talked to him to find out what he wanted to start his day doing. Turns out he wanted to play with the glitter.

“I’m happy, now” he told his teacher after many glittered ornaments.

Remember I mentioned Santa stress in the beginning? Bang is officially tired of being “good”. The stomping and growling has returned. One can only be on their best behavior for so long. With everyone asking him about Santa coming, asking him if he’s being good, the anticipation of Christmas morning, it’s all become just too much handle any more.

It use to happen to Crash, too. So many people would ask him if he’s ready for Santa, if he was being good, he would go into melt down mode for the last week and half before Christmas.

This would be one of the disadvantages of starting the Christmas season too early.

 

 

 

The Hidden Illnesses

Anxiety. Depression. Bi-polar. Grieving. Anger. Stress. Psychosis. Anorexia. Bulimia. PTSD. Mental illness comes in many shapes and sizes and colors. It can easily camouflage itself from those it affects and from those who surround the affected. Diagnosis can be difficult, especially if those who need the help aren’t seeking it. Perhaps they don’t feel it’ll work. Perhaps they don’t believe they need it.

For a little while I was believing the world was getting past the stigma of mental illness. There is a fear of being weak. A fear of appearing crazy. Or psycho. There’s a fear of not being normal, whatever normal may be. However, I’ve come to discover there are still those out there battling, struggling without seeking the proper support for these exact reasons. The stigma and silence needs to be broken.

If you break your ankle, what’s the first thing you do? Go to the hospital for x-rays and they put a cast or a boot on it, give you crutches, tell you to keep off it for a couple weeks, and send you on your way. You seek help. You get the support you need for that ankle to heal properly.

Realizing you have a mental deficiency is a bit trickier to recognize than a broken ankle. There’s no physical pain. There’s nothing to x-ray. Doctors can’t put a cast on it. Crutches and an ice compression are useless. In many cases, those who struggle with mental illness may not even know it and therefore won’t seek the help they need. Essentially, their mental illness never receives proper treatment and therefore never heals.

If left untreated, in the long run, a year, five years, ten years maybe, the struggle could prove to be too much. At best, they suffer alone in silence trying to cope. At second best, they make their illness more visible through actions and or their words yet refuse to get help. At worst, they decide to end the struggle themselves.

Mental illness can often be covered with a mask, hidden from the world behind a smile. Who would have guessed that Robin Williams battled depression his whole life? He was comedian who loved to make people laugh. Surely, someone as outgoing and funny as Mr. Williams couldn’t be depressed.

I’ve been thinking about this for the past year. A year ago I didn’t have a blog. Now I have a blog, I have a voice to the world. So I’m taking the next few days to write about this because I think it’s something that needs discussing. We need to break the stigma and end the silence that surrounds the topic of mental health?

Read part two- Breaking the Silence written by my wife about her battle with depression and getting through it.